Lingering Investor Competition Haunts Florida Housing Market


Competition from moneyed investors appears as a continuing concern for prospective home buyers in Florida, Sarasota Bay Real Estate reports. The lingering investor interest on buying opportunities in the Sunshine State’s residential market was evident in February 2014. During the month, Florida led cash home sales in the US, with all of its regional markets landing in the top 100 regions nationwide where cash sales exceeded 50%, according to statistics from the analytics firm RealtyTrac.

In the Sarasota/Venice area, cash transactions were estimated at 69.4%of total February sales. The proportion was even higher in Miami at 71.3% and was also significant in Tampa Bay (65.9%), Orlando (62.3%), and Jacksonville (54.9%). The same trend was observed in the smaller markets of Cape Coral/Fort Myers (76.1%), Lakeland (62.7%), and Palm-Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (68%).

Rental demand strong

Lingering Investor Competition Haunts Florida Housing Market

The sustained investor interest in the Sarasota-Manatee home market can be traced to be the robust rental demand and lack of units for lease in the two counties. This mirrors the situation nationwide, particularly in states where the job markets are on the rebound but home affordability remains a hurdle to the low-income sector. In Sarasota and Manatee, significant gains in local tourism have also brought strong incentives to rental investors.

In the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota metropolitan statistical area, data from the Axiometrics research firm showed that apartment occupancy was at 96.33% in February. This monthly level is more than two percentage points above the national average and put Southwest Florida among the most attractive US rental markets for investors.

More market players surface

Some relatively new players have also entered the local market in the wake of the multi-million dollar purchases by big investors like the Blackstone Group. It amassed some 180 homes in Sarasota-Manatee area alone in 2012-2013, purchases mimicked by other investors though at a smaller scale.

The Fetlar LLC subsidiary of Waypoint Homes, an Oakland, Calif.-based investor, is one of these recent entrants. It has grabbed a total of 14 Sarasota homes for sale since July last year. Its latest purchases were focused on homes built in the late 1950s and 1960s having floor areas ranging from 1,400 square feet to 1,900 square feet. Fetlar bought these homes at slightly under the $100s up to the low $200s.

A Tampa investor, Village Square West Champ LLC, has also jockeyed into the rental derby in Bradenton Beach. It has purchased for just over $2 million 10 beachfront condo units in Club Bamboo in Anna Maria Island. The units’ floor areas range from 476 to 735 square feet, with each having one bedroom and one bathroom.The condo complex, located at North Gulf Drive in the southern end of the island, was built in 1975.

Spotting purchase opportunities

Buying competition from investors indeed appear keener around the mid-$100s based on the MLS of Sarasota homes for sale. Most of the current MLS listings at this price level are already under pending contracts.

Nevertheless, properties priced near the $150s occasionally become available in the market, opportunities that buyers can spot with the help of an alert real estate agent.